The one thing that typically makes or breaks an adventure is the gear you bring (or don’t). What if you only have one opportunity to paddle that gorge or summit that peak? Do you want to spend the trip miserably wet from a faulty rain shell or completely frozen from inadequate base layers? We work hard to live for the moment, that brief period of time when the weather, the view, the smell of fresh air, the sweat on our brow, the sun on our cheeks, absolutely everything is just right. But more often than not, we find ourselves amid some not-so-perfect conditions. So when Mother Nature takes a turn for the worse, when fate deals its capricious hand, don’t slump back to base camp. Be prepared with these 16 great products that work where you need them, when you need them.
Best Outdoor Gear 2013:
1. Arcteryx Atom SV Hoody
For temperatures and climates that demand more than a fleece mid-layer, this synthetic hoody is the way to go. Its moisture- and wind-resistant outer fabric also makes this jacket durable and warm enough for use as an outer layer. The underarm panel is designed to be breathable when you’re active, warm when you’re not.
2. Smartwool Ridgeway Hat
For those who like to hit the ski bar after a long day on the slopes, style and function are everything. This beanie has a tightly woven knit and full liner made entirely of Merino wool to keep your head warm even when the flakes start falling. The groovy stripes are sure to stand out in a sea of monochromatic melons.
3. Patagonia Capilene 3
Even when your rain shell fails you and you’re drenched to the bone with half a day of hiking yet, you can count on these base layers to keep you warm. Made from a stretchy double-knit polyester fabric, both the top and bottom layers are designed with comfort in mind. Offset seams mean you can wear a pack comfortably for days without any irritation, and the Polygiene® permanent odor control will keep you feeling fresh and clean, no matter how greasy you really are.
$65 top, $55 bottom; patagonia.com
4. Mountain Hardwear Chockstone
For those long days on the rock, you need pants that provide protection from any type of element. The air-permeable stretch fabric on the Chockstone has a high resistance to abrasion, but is also finished with a coat of DWR (Durable Water Repellent) to help shed moisture from light rain. This fabric also provides UPF 50 sun protection and a Micro-Chamois™ lining at the waist helps you stay comfortable when you’re in the harness for hours on end.
Pant: $125; mountainhardwear.com
5. Darn Tough Mountaineering Sock
Blizzards, freezing rain, blinding downpours: you name it, this sock can handle it. Made with extra heavy terry loop padding in the foot and shin, this beefy sock won’t wear out under pressure and provides maximum warmth. The streamlined fit and invisible seams help avoid debilitating blisters, while the fine gauge Merino wool lets your feet breathe and your socks dry fast. Did we mention these babies have a lifetime warranty?
6. Marmot Ridgerock Jacket
When it’s rainy and cold, it sucks, no matter if you’re at 10,000 feet in the Alps or at 3,000 feet in the Blue Ridge. For a reliable shell that keeps you dry when you need it and lets you breathe when you don’t, check out this GORE-TEX jacket. The Angel-Wing Movement™ design doesn’t restrict your range of motion and prevents the shell from riding up your backside. It packs down to just over one pound, which is considerably light given its 100% seam-taped two-layer construction.
7. MSR Hubba Hubba
When you see that storm front quickly approaching on the horizon, you want to be able to set up a shelter fast. The Hubba Hubba is the perfect solution for weight-conscious backpackers who appreciate an easy-to-assemble freestanding tent. With two doors, two large vestibules, and 40 inches of headspace, this three-season tent is great for everything, from extended alpine expeditions to car camping.
8. Kinivo BTH240 Bluetooth Wireless Headphones (not pictured) Kinivo’s top selling on-ear wireless headphones use an exceptional integrated rechargeable battery, which blast up to 10 hours of active audio. To recharge, simply plug the headphones into the included micro-USB charging cable and connect to your PC or wall outlet. It also provides crystal-clear conversations and hands-free calling via a built-in noise cancelling microphone – all housed in a stylishly slim, foldable design. The headphones handled trail runs and long hikes superbly—as well as the drive to and from the trailhead. $30. kinivo.com
1. Petzl Tikka XP2 Headlamp
Versatile lighting options for a wide variety of conditions are essential in the backcountry, and this headlamp has it all. With one high-output LED, one red LED, five lighting modes, and a wide angle lens, the Tikka XP2 can cover up to 68 meters and provides 190 hours of lighting in economic mode. The two strobe settings are ideal for urban environments where visibility is crucial to nighttime bicycle commutes.
2. Klean Kanteen Insulated 20oz mug
Need your homemade chili to keep nice and hot while you’re out shredding the slopes? Wouldn’t it be nice to have that smoothie stay cold while you’re out on a midday trail run? With this heavy duty insulated mug, you can do both. This stainless steel thermos keeps hot things hot (for up to six hours) and cold things cold (for up to 24).
3. Alite Monarch Butterfly Chair
After a long day of backpacking, it’s nice to be able to get off your feet. Weighing in at 21oz, this lightweight chair lets you do just that while not having to lug around heavy, bulky alternatives. The aluminum frame balances on two legs, which allows you enough stability to sit on uneven ground and also rock forward and back. The tent-pole design breaks down to fit into a small stuff sack, so you can take it with you anywhere.
4. Casio PAG240 Watch
An upgrade to the Pathfinder line of watches, the PAG240 offers the same Triple Sensor functionality as the former models but is now powered by the sun. When you’re in remote locations, it helps to be able to look down at your wrist and have an altimeter, barometer, thermometer, compass, sunrise/sunset information, and the time of day literally at your fingertips in one sleek, compact design.
5. Sea To Summit Alpine II Sleeping Bag
Sleeping at higher altitudes or in the dead of winter requires a bag that can provide serious warmth. The Alpine II is filled with Ultra-Dry Down™ at 850+ loft, which means you’ll be able to stay toasty at night without having to lug a bulky bag during the day. The smaller opening around the face ensures that your body heat does not escape, and the tapered box where your feet rest is designed with your foot’s natural angle in mind.
6. Adventure Technology Hercules
Most kayakers do more than just run steep creeks or surf big waves. Most like to dabble, a little waterfall huck here, some McNastys there. If you’re a dabbler, then the Hercules is for you. Designed for the boater who spends a lot of time running rivers but likes to stop and play along the way, this versatile paddle is balanced for optimal all-around performance and is available in both carbon fiber and fiberglass. Think of it as the little black dress of kayakers.
7. Showers Pass Refuge Jacket
A true do-it-all jacket, the Refuge is ideal for everything from bicycle commuting to shredding the slopes. The seam-taped, fully waterproof jacket has easy-access vents to prevent overheating, reflective trim for safe cycling on busy streets, and an adjustable hood large enough to cover any helmet. The jacket also includes an audio port in the chest pocket and a drop-down tail to protect against road spray and wet chairlifts.
8. Hobie Polarized Segundo Sunglasses
Hobie’s high-tech lenses allows you to see all colors vividly. No more washed-out monochrome views; with the Segundo, you’ll forget you’re wearing shades.
9. The A.T. Guide
Thru-hiker David “AWOL” Miller’s trail companion is the essential resource for any A.T. trek, whether a day hike or a thru hike. It includes mile-by-mile elevation profiles and icons indicating water, shelters, and scenic vistas, along with 72 maps of towns and resupply points.
10. GoLite Malpais Rain Jacket
At a mere 6.7 ounces, this incredibly light three-layer rain shell also blocks wind and rain. Remarkably, it also breathes well, thanks to a permeable proprietary membrane. You won’t get better protection from the elements in under seven ounces. $125.